The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the First Amendment protects public employees from job retaliation when they testify in court about official corruption. In a unanimous decision, the court decided in favor of Edward Lane, a former Alabama community college official who says he was fired after testifying at the criminal fraud trial of a state lawmaker.
Lower courts had ruled against Lane, finding that he was testifying as a college employee, not as a citizen. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Lane’s testimony was constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern – even if it covered facts learned at work.
Emily Bazelon, legal affairs editor at Slate, joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss that opinion. She also weighs in on the court’s ruling tossing out an Australian company’s patents for business software in a closely watched case that offers new guidance on the standards for awarding patents.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
- Emily Bazelon, senior editor for Slate magazine and senior research fellow at Yale Law School. She tweets @emilybazelon.